Am I the Last One? The one-minute paper

One-minuteI’m taking an online class in learning outcome creation, and assessment is a big portion of the class. One thing mentioned is “Classroom assessment techniques such as the one-minute paper, made famous by Angelo and Cross…”.

Now I’ll admit, somewhere in the back of my mind this sounds very familiar, but it’s obvious that I’ve basically forgotten what the one-minute paper is or how I might use it in class.  If you’re like me and need a refresher, here’s what I found after a Google search (from http://www.maa.org/saum/maanotes49/87.html):

No matter how beautifully prepared our classroom presentation may be, what the student hears is not always what we think we have said. The one-minute paper is a quick and easy assessment tool that helps alert us when this disjuncture occurs, while it also gives the timid student an opportunity to ask questions and seek clarification.

In its basic format, the instructor takes the last minute (or, realistically, three minutes) of class and asks students to write down short answers to two questions:

  • What was the most important point made in class today?
  • What unanswered question do you still have?

Responses can be put on 3×5 cards that are the teacher hands out, or on the student’s own paper. Students can be allowed to respond anonymously, to encourage them to admit points of confusion they might hesitate to put their name to, or they can be asked to write their names so that the instructor can write a brief, personal response to each question or encourage thoughtful answers by giving extra credit.

The questions can be modified in various ways, but they should remain open-ended. In one variation the instructor asked each student to name five significant points that had been made in that session. This can be especially useful in identifying the range of perceptions of what has been happening in class. By spending some time early in the term discussing these perceptions and how they relate to what the instructor hopes that the students will see as the central ideas of the class, students can learn how to identify the central themes in each lecture.

In one large class, students were required to write their names on their papers. After class, the teacher would check the names of those who had turned them in (a bonus amounting to 1% of the total grade was given to those who turned them in regularly – basically a way of awarding good attendance), and then write a one-sentence response to each question. These were returned to the students the next day.

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